How can you be 5 years old already?

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It’s funny because when I was pregnant, nine months felt like forever. But once Clarissa was born, time seemed to speed up. Maybe that is slightly exaggerated. The first two months where she didn’t know the difference between night and day dragged a bit too. But once I was getting five hour stretches of sleep at night and started enjoying my daughter, I could enjoy the moment better. I cannot believe that Clarissa is five years old. It does not seem like it has actually been five YEARS since we met her.

Clarissa has been asking me to teach her to read on and off since she was three. I really wanted her to have fun and play so while we did do some preschool this year, we didn’t do a lot of academics each day. She started to want more in the spring so we officially started kindergarten in June. She still loves me to read to her and will “read” to herself for a while too. She is starting to enjoy tracing/writing letters more. Her favorite is probably math though. She enjoys counting and puzzles. She actually enjoys homeschooling so much that when people ask her about starting kindergarten in the fall she says something like, “I am homeschooled FOREVER. Mommy teaches me at home and I will NEVER go to real school.” She gets really upset if we ask her if she wants to go to school.

Clarissa enjoys going to Sunday school. She has learned a few Bible verses and reminds me to read a Bible story during school each day. She said she wants to try AWANA this year and is very much looking forward to gymnastics starting again in September. Today she told me that she has “been waiting a long time for that!”

I think Clarissa is an introvert. She enjoys being with a small group that she knows. If we go somewhere loud or with a large group of kids she asks to leave very quickly. She is sensitive to loud noise in general. She always hides in her room and closes the door when I vacuum and won’t see movies in the theater anymore because it is too loud.

As usual, Clarissa is very verbal and wants to tell you her opinion about EVERYTHING. She is not very gracious if you have a different opinion so we are working on that. She also has a very vivid imagination so she tells great stories. She has also started saving her screen time for when daddy is home in the evening so that she can watch him play video games or watch a show together.

Clarissa wants a baby sister so badly. Actually she wants two sisters but if one of them a brother, it’s okay. For her birthday, she requested a bunk bed so that she can “share a room with her sister.”

She seems to have really matured lately. She no longer requires the stroller to walk to post or for a day of exploring. Clarissa gave away her My Little Pony toys and wants to play with her baby doll. She is always the mom. She plays dress up often as well and wants to pretend to be her favorite characters on TV. Her current favorite is Eva from Wakfu so she can often be found wearing boots inside the house and carrying around her bow and arrow. She also enjoys playing outside and making crafts. I think she would live at the pool or beach if I let her.

Some of my favorite Clarissa sayings right now:

  • I prefer dogs (poor Mittens. Though they still have many tender moments)
  • It’s not my stuffed animal, it’s my pet
  • Our family is not alone in this car… I see a bug in here!
  • Constructions (instructions)
  • Frusterated (frustrated)
  • Figerate (I need to figure it out)
  • I trickstered you!
  • Interdasting (interesting)
  • Inzausting (exhausting)
  • Great Wall of Korea
  • Throft store (thrift store)
  • I am writing kid letters (when she just scribbles instead of writing English letters)

Summer School Days

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Clarissa has been asking me to teach her to read off and on since before she was potty trained. She constantly asked to start kindergarten this spring so I spent May planning what I wanted our year together to look like.

In June, we officially started kindergarten. I knew that I wanted to start slow so I planned for 20-30 minutes of lessons, four days per week. Some days were like binge days for her and she would do two or three days worth in one sitting because she didn’t want to stop. So my July plans had more to do each day.

Omi sent us a scavenger hunt from a magazine. We decided that we wanted to do it across the street at Nonseong Park. Clarissa and I thought it would be fun to do school outside as well so we packed our school books, some crayons, and a clipboard in my backpack. On the way out the door, Clarissa decided to ride her bike and also bring the kite.

Clarissa rode her bike across the street and then we climbed the hill to fly the kite. As I set my bookbag down, Clarissa already had her kite in the air. This was only her second time flying a kite, but she did extremely well.

When we needed a water break, we headed to the pavilion on the hill to do our Bible time.

Then we did our scavenger hunt. Clarissa had a great time finding the items on the list like a crooked stick, a bug that crawls, something that smells good, and something that feels rough. The only thing we didn’t find was an acorn. But we found a pinecone instead.

We reviewed our five senses to talk about what we did on our scavenger hunt and drew pictures.

We took another break to play on the Korean exercise equipment and then headed back to the pavilion to read our books for the day.

Then we headed back up the hill for more kite flying fun. She went on the very top and said she was walking on the Hwaseong Fortress.

When we had enough we headed home by bike. Our “school day” took about two hours with all the breaks but we both really enjoyed it.

Other days, we brought our schoolwork to one of the playgrounds in our apartment complex. We would bring our books and schoolwork outside and she would do an activity or two, go play, and come back to complete another activity.

We have also been on a lot of field trips this summer. We learned about animals at the National Institute of Ecology, fed fish at the aquarium in Seoul, hiked the Hwaseong Fortress wall, touched bugs at the Asan Insect Museum, saw animals at the Ueno Zoo, and learned about Japan before our trip to Tokyo.

Because our school days were short, we had plenty of time to go swimming or play with friends. I think this was one of our favorite summers together. I wonder what school should look like for fall?

God’s Girl Says Yes

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Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

Clarissa 4.5

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Clarissa is growing up so fast. I can’t believe she will be four and a half years old on Tuesday. It seems like every day she says or does something that surprises me. She is also starting to look tall to me (until we leave the house and stands next to one of her actually tall friends).

Clarissa has always enjoyed reading. She sometimes still stays up with a reading lamp at bedtime. What has changed is that she tries to learn from her books now or act them out. For example, we recently read a book about a girl who turned her bedroom into her own country. Immediately after we read this book, Clarissa decided to turn her room into “Clarissavania,” complete with a flag, rules, money, and national treasures.

She and Mittens really do act like sisters. They love each other one minute and annoy each other the next. Clarissa often likes to pick out treats or presents for Mittens at the PX and Mittens sleeps in Clarissa’s bed every night.

Clarissa likes to dress herself. She is getting quite girly and prefers skirts to pants. She often pretends to be one of the Equestria Girls. She also prefers to wear boots instead of sneakers. She sometimes pretends to be an Equestria Girl and give me a concert.

I thought that she had given up on Legos in favor of Barbies. But in the past few weeks has been more interested in building Lego cities. She also plays a game she calls “umbrella party.” This basically entails bringing the big umbrella into the living room and putting a bunch of toys next to it to play there. Her favorite game to play is called “family.” Sometimes she is the mom and puts a baby doll in her shirt and in a few minutes pulls it out and says, “look I had my baby!” and proceeds to take care of it. The baby needs to be nursed, have a diaper change, and put in her crib. Other times, the doll is her baby sister and she tells me to nurse it, but she does everything else.

She jumps on her trampoline every day. The trampoline also serves as a stage for a concert. Clarissa and I also like to play Just Dance together on the Wii. This week she has started to get very silly with it. Half the time, instead of dancing with me she just does something silly into the camera because she wants to see the playback.

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Clarissa is finally starting to eat more foods. She will eat chicken and scrambled eggs consistently and will even occasionally eat part of a bison burger. She will randomly eat fruit like apples, strawberries, and grapes. She will eat any flavor of fruit squeeze though. Vegetables are still pretty elusive unless you count seaweed.

Her favorite movie right now is Home Alone. She thinks the bad guys getting beat up is hilarious.

Clarissa still enjoys doing school with me. When she was younger, I thought she was going to be left handed. At this point, I think she is ambidextrous. She will use both hands when she draws or writes letters. Clarissa has really enjoyed coloring with markers lately.

Clarissa still prefers play dates with one child at a time but is getting more comfortable with larger groups, especially at church where it is the same group each week.

I always like to write down her new sayings so I will remember the funny things she says:

More upper or downer (go up or down)

Figerate (figure something out)

Comforter (comfortable)

Clo (clothes)

Insterding (interesting)

Skewel (school)

Fabulous!

I’ll show ya

What the heck?!

Constructions (instructions)

The next time you and Daddy go on a date, I don’t need a babysitter. God will protect me.

Mommy come with me. I’m getting lonely (if she needs to go to the bathroom).

She and Tim also spent a month or two of regular arguments at the dinner table about whether or not there should be a baby in my tummy. She has recently given up on that and has started to say, “we need to move to America so we can adopt my sister.” The other reason she wants to move to America immediately is so that we will be a two car family. Apparently she is tired of walking with Mommy during the week…

What we do for preschool (part 2)

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Since we have moved to Korea, I have paid more attention to when my friends get to go to conferences and conventions. I didn’t do a lot of that when we lived in Norfolk. Probably because I was either working or Clarissa was really young. But I have also discovered online conferences and conventions. Many of them are free!

In May, I spent most of the month listening to speakers from The Online Homeschool Convention while I was making dinner or doing dishes. It was pretty cool to be able to pick and choose what I wanted to listen to. And to be able to turn something off in the middle if I wasn’t really feeling it.

One thing that really resonated with me was just letting kids play when they were small. Let them learn by doing. Make learning fun. You don’t want to ruin school for them when they are small because once you lose your love of learning, it is hard to get it back.

I bought a curriculum to work on with Clarissa when she was four and for a few days, I really struggled with if I was going to do it or not. But she kept asking for school. We started God’s Little Explorers in July. The curriculum has lessons for four days per week. There is a big Bible story, theme, and letter each week. By starting in July, it gives us two weeks to do each theme so we can really take our time and have plenty of time for play.

The first week set a fun foundation to work from. We learned about the letter X. I hid all of our school supplies and put a sticky note with the letter X nearby so she could find them. She had a great time!

Clarissa has been very excited about our Bible stories. She likes that we read them multiple times and from different Bibles (The Jesus Storybook Bible and the Beginner’s Bible). She also likes that there is a theme to the books I get from the library each week. For example, when we learned about the Creation Story, our letter was G for garden so we read books about plants. There is also usually a shape to focus on and some crafts. The part Clarissa is not excited about is writing. She wrote big G just fine, but “didn’t like little g. Can I write s?” When we were talking about A for Adam and Eve, she wanted to do the letter C.

I have decided that I’m not going to push the writing at this point. She just turned four. She doesn’t have to be able to write the alphabet in order to read. So we’re just going to keep going with our curriculum since she likes most of it (and I really like it too). When she wants to write, we will. When we learned about Noah, I was able to get her to do some “rainbow letters” for C. Sometimes she will also trace words if I draw a picture first on the dry erase board.

Another component to this curriculum is learning to help around the house. Clarissa has been pretty good about bringing her dishes to the sink and putting her dirty clothes in the hamper. Since starting this curriculum she has started cutting bananas and cheese, making peanut butter sandwiches, and peeling carrots. She also wants to decorate her own pizza. I recently made a chore chart for Clarissa. She likes moving the magnets when she finishes her chore. She has actually complied with the, “you have to do these chores before you can ___” part also.

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Clarissa gets really excited to do school after dinner. Probably because she walks by where I keep all of her school stuff. So she will just pick out an activity to do. We have several dry erase books to work on letters or numbers. She has matching cards for opposites. We recently learned to play “go fish.”

Another thing I bought for her was a peel and stick dry erase world map from the px. When we read a book or watch something on tv where they talk about another place, we will walk over to the map and look for it. Sometimes the map gets pretty messy with drawings of penguins on Antarctica, Nemo near Australia, or pyramids in Egypt. And sometimes she just scribbles over it. But that’s the beauty of dry erase. And while she’s scribbling, she’s building her hand muscles so she’ll want to write more, in theory anyway…

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They offer both gymnastics and ballet on post, so I was planning to let her pick which one she wanted to do. For most of the summer, ballet was the frontrunner so she could wear her tutu. When it was time to sign up, she changed her mind. She said she wants to take classes when she’s 5. So we’ll wait on that for now. The beauty of military life is that you can register at any point during the year so we don’t have to wait until next fall if she decides she wants to take classes earlier. I did however register her for AWANA. She loves Vacation Bible School so I think she will like AWANA as well.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you order God’s Little Explorers through this post, I will make a small commission. However, it does not add to your cost.

What we do for preschool (part 1)

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With everyone sharing pictures of the first day of school/preschool the past few weeks, I thought I would share what Clarissa has been doing for preschool.

Clarissa has an August birthday so she will always be one of the youngest in her class. For most of age three, she rarely woke up before 8 AM. Add to that, that I get to be a stay at home mom while we live in Korea. We decided to keep her home for preschool.

At three years old, I feel like it is really important that Clarissa gets to play and be creative. I bought some Usborne sticker books , wipe away books, and flap books to teach colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. We worked on them whenever she asked for “her school books.”

We read a lot of books! She likes to “read” me the stories too. At first, it was the stories that we had read a thousand times so she almost had them memorized anyway. But now she will pick up a book that we have never read before, look at the pictures, and tell me the story. Sometimes she even reads “in her head.” She often asks to go to the library.

Clarissa has a lot of toys that inspire imagination. We inherited a doll house and a play kitchen last year. She also loves to play with legos. She also helped me a lot in the kitchen with counting tablespoons or mixing things in the bowl. Cookie cutters and sprinkles are probably her favorite part of cooking though. For the first half of three she really liked to paint and play with play doh. Then she moved on to making pictures with stickers or by cutting and glueing.

Clarissa loves to go on vacation and to museums. We make sure to hit up the children’s museum and an aquarium or zoo every place we go. Science museums seem to be hit or miss, depending on if there is enough English for us to explain the science to her. But she loves to watch or read Magic School Bus.

At the end of the day, I want her to enjoy learning. She recognizes her letters and numbers to 12. She actually understands what it means to have six bears. I think social development is also a big deal in preschool. Clarissa has  playdates regularly so she is learning to share and play with others. She can follow simple directions.

I did buy a more formal curriculum to do with her while she is four. But even then, I plan to be pretty relaxed and take our time with it.

My four year old thinks she’s a super hero

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It was hard to type that. My four year old. It is hard to believe that Clarissa is 4 years old today. Life has changed so much in four years!

Clarissa is growing into this wonderful little girl. She can be pleasant, kind, and helpful. But at the same time, she is very determined. Let’s just say she’s in the right house because she certainly knows what she wants and is not afraid to voice her opinion. For example, recently she wanted to wear a tutu to the market.

I am learning to enjoy ALL of her and not just the things that make my job easier.

Clarissa is so smart. She can recognize her letters and numbers. We started a preschool curriculum together in July. She enjoys the Bible stories and crafts. She likes the themes for the books and activities. However, she is not very interested in writing or finding letters at this time. When we studied creation, we were working on the letter G. Capital G was just fine but she “didn’t like little g! Can’t we do s?” When we were supposed to do A for studying Adam and Eve, she was adamant that she wanted to do C that week. I think we will continue our stories and crafts and I will just ask her what letter she wants to work on that day.

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Clarissa is also kind of obsessed with The Magic School Bus. She watches the shows on Netflix daily. We have a new book from the library pretty much every time we go. Her favorite book is probably The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body. We have spent several afternoons drawing the inside of the human body. One time she skinned her knee and wanted to know where the platelets were to stop her from bleeding. Any time she sees a red circle, she asks if it is a red blood cell.

Wild Kratts is another favorite. We watch the show and there are a few books at the library. She has a pretty good understanding of the difference between predator and prey.

She still prefers being “make – id” (naked) so there are markedly less photos to show the grandparents. About once a month she will request an Elsa braid for her hair. The rest of the month, I am expressly forbidden to touch her hair.

Clarissa thinks she is very strong. And fast. And that she has powers. Like a super hero. She doesn’t worry about being smashed by a car because “I can put my hand out and stop it.”

She is a ballerina. Ballerinas only wear pink shoes (which is why Grammy had to send some for her birthday).

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Her favorite color is all of them. She has worn the same dress to church six weeks in a row because it has all of her favorite colors on it (red, yellow, teal, and pink).

She often wears rain boots. Even when it is not raining. And she likes to wear dresses and skirts more than shorts. Nail polish is constant. Last week when she was picking out her dress, she wanted to wear some of my jewelry too.

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Clarissa can tell me Bible stories. Sometimes she prays or asks me things about God. She plays with her “Jesus toys” (nativity set and resurrection eggs). But she tells me often that she doesn’t like Jesus. But Vacation Bible School was fun and she wants to go back tomorrow. Before she was born God told me that she would be a little girl with great faith. She still has a few years left of little girldom so I am waiting to see how this plays out.

She probably eats the same handful of foods I posted on her second birthday. But I have given up on being frustrated with that. She takes a multivitamin daily and eats fruit squeezes like they’re going out of style. She eats pepperoni, cheese, or peanut butter daily. So I feel like her diet is well rounded enough. Maybe one day she will eat what we eat for dinner without saying “yuck” and making faces.

Clarissa loves the water and takes at least one bath per day. Most days bathtime is at least 30 minutes long and several days per week she takes more than one bath in a day, just to play in the water.

Clarissa is also very creative. She loves to read books, both with me and by herself. She loves looking at the pictures to make up a story. Lego building happens every day in our house. Stuffed animals are real pets with names and “speak English but Mittens just speaks cat.” She also enjoys painting.

She says some pretty funny things:

She wants to do /not do things “because I do/don’t” (that’s why she likes things too)

If she’s tired while riding her bike she needs to “refuel” (drink water or have a fruit squeeze)

 

She will say something rediculous or made up and when you look at her she will say, “that’s how you say… in Spanish.”

She will ask if someone is Korean or an Englisher

It’s been ten minutes. 12345678910!

That’s “indoorable!” (adorable)

Okay okay okay

I get it!

I’ll help you

Rests for like 30 seconds “okay. Now I have enough enzergy (energy) to walk”

Where’s my bug looking thing? (magnifying glass)

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I’m figurating (thinking. Trying to figure something out)

Sun scream (sun tan lotion)

Fly swapper (fly swatter)

Back pag (she can’t commit to either bookbag or backpack)

I’m excusing (just kidding)

What island does… live on?

It’s so beautiful

Wonderful

I am reading in my head

Mommy. Daddy. Talk in your head! (when she is tired and doesn’t want to hear us talk in the car or living room)

Seriously?!

I’m curious

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